“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am” (Genesis 22:1).
The KJV translators have rendered the Hebrew word nissah, “tempt,” in different ways:
(1) When one man tests or proves another. The queen of Sheba came to Solomon “to prove him with hard questions” designed to reveal whether his wisdom was as great as it was reputed to be (1 Kings 10:1).
(2) When God tries, tests, or proves a man (Ex. 16:4; Deut. 8:2, 16; 13:3; 2 Chron. 32:31).
(3) When a man puts God to the test by trying to compel Him to act in accordance with his own proposals. This is presumption, as distinct from faith (Ex. 17:2, 7; Num. 14:22; Isa. 7:12).
Inasmuch as the word “tempt” is now generally used to imply evil intent, the word “test” would be preferable in this verse. Abraham received the greatest test that could come to a human being.
God does not tempt any man “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13). James makes clear that the sufferings, trials, and problems that every Christian faces should never be understood as permitted by God for the purpose of enticing men to sin. God will permit men to face trials, but never with the intent that any man should fail.
God’s purpose is like that of the refiner, who casts his ore into the crucible with the hope that a purer metal will be the result—not with the intention of piling up dross. Satan, however, does tempt with the intention of causing defeat and never of strengthening a man’s character (Matt. 4:1). Suffering is inflicted by Satan, and is overruled by God for purposes of mercy.
In His service,
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